Culture

It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Two of Latin America’s most important ingredients – staples of cuisines across the region – are in danger of possible extinction thanks to climate change. Tomatoes and chilies both make up a huge part of traditional recipes from Mexico to Brazil and Argentina to Cuba – and they’re close to disappearing from grocery stores everywhere.

We know that tomato and chili are two fundamental ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Due to the threats suffered by its main pollinator, the bumblebee, these basic ingredients could disappear forever.

Climate change is wreaking havoc on the planet. But one of the most at-risk species is the humble bumble bee. These often feared insects are a vital source of pollination for thousands of plant and flower species around the world – if they disappear so too do the species of plants that depend on them.

Pollinators are species of great importance for a healthy environment. They are responsible for the the diversity and health of various biomes. Across Latin America, the bumble bee is largely responsible for the pollination of modern agriculture and this could have a major impact on the production of tomatoes and chilis.

Unfortunately, bumblebees are currently threatened, resulting in the possible extinction of different vegetables, including tomatoes and chili.

But why does the tiny bumble bee matter at all?

The bumble bee belongs to the insect family Apidae, which includes hundeds of different species of bumblebees. In fact, the bumble bee can be found on every continent except Antarctica and plays an outsized role in agriculture. The insects are often larger than honey bees, come in black and white varieties and often feature white, yellow, or orange stripes. This genus belongs to the Apidae family that includes different species commonly known as bumblebees. They’re almost entirely covered by very silky hairs. An adult bumblebee reaches 20 millimeters or more and feeds primarily on nectar from flowering plants. A curious fact is that females have the ability to sting, while males do not.

Bumblebees are epic pollinators of the tomato and chili plantS. Together with different species, the bumblebee helps produce many staple foods that are part of healthy diets around the world. If these become extinct the eating habits of all Latinos would suffer drastic changes as several vegetables would disappear.

So why are bumblebees in danger?

The main threat of these insects is the pesticides used in modern agriculture. That is why it is necessary to avoid consuming food produced in this way. We can all help the bumblebee planting plants, protecting native species and especially not damaging their natural environment.

But climate change is also wreaking havoc on the breeding patters of bumblebees – leading to colony collapse. With fewer colonies there is less breeding and therefore fewer bees around the world to pollinate our global crops.

Can you imagine a world without tomatoes or chilies?

Salsa. Moles. Pico de gallo. Ketchup. Chiles rellenos. Picadillo. All of these iconic Latin American dishes would be in danger of going extinct along with the bumblebee – because what’s a mole without the rich, complex flavors of dried chilies?

Several groups are already working hard to help fund programs that would work to conserve the dwindling bumblebee populations. While others are working out solutions that could perhaps allow tomatoes and chilies to self-pollinate – much as other plants already do.

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Culture

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images

Netflix has a new food show out and it has everyone buzzing. “Street Food: Latin America” is bringing everyone the sabor of Latin America to their living room. However, reviews are mixed because of Argentina and the lack of Central American representation.

Netflix has a new show and it is all about Latin American street food.

Some of the best food in the world comes from Latin America. That is just a fact and it isn’t because our families and community come for Latin America. Okay, maybe just a little. The food of Latin America comes with history and stories that have shaped our childhood. For many of us, it is the only thing we have that connects us to the lands our families have left.

The show is highlighting the contributions of women to street food.

“Street Food: Latin America” focuses mainly on the women that are leading the street food cultures in different countries in Latin America. For some of them, it was a chance to bring themselves out of poverty and care for their children. For others, it was a rebellion against the male-dominated culture of cooking in Latin America.

However, some people have some strong opinions about the show and they aren’t good.

There is a lot of attention to native communities in the Latino community culturally right now. The Argentina episode where someone claims that Argentina is more European is rubbing people the wrong way right now. While the native population of Argentina is small, it is still important to highlight and honor native communities who are indigenous to the lands.

The disregard for the indigenous community is upsetting because indigenous Argentinians are fighting for their lives and land.

An A Jazeera report focused on an indigenous community in northern Argentina who were fighting to protect their land. After decades of discrimination and humiliation, members of the Wichi community fought to protect their land from the Argentinian government grabbing it in 2017. Early this year, before Covid, children of the tribe started to die at alarming rates of malnutrition.

Another pain point in the Latino community is the complete disregard of Central America.

Central America includes Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, and Panama. Central America’s exclusion is not sitting right with Netflix users with Central American heritage. Like, how can five whole countries be looked over during a Netflix show about street food in Latin America?

Seems like there is a chance for Netflix to revisit Latin America for more food content.

There are so many countries in Latin America that offer delicious foods to the world. There is more to Latin America than Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia.

READ: This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

Culture

This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

Omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Let’s face it: our community knows how to do street food like no other place on Earth. From the humble Mexican taco to Argentina’s choripan and Peru’s world-famous ceviche, Latin America is a street food lover’s paradise.

So it’s no surprise that Netflix launched an entire show about our comida callejera called Street Food: LatinoAmerica. The series focuses on street food staples from around Latin America and in order to find out which street food reigns supreme, Netflix launched an online campaign to declare a winner.

In an online tournament organized by Netflix to decide the best street food in Latin America, thousands of users voted for Oaxaca’s tlayuda.

If you had to pick your favorite street food, what would it be? Could you even pick just one? Well, that’s exactly what Netflix forced people to do with a new poll to determine the best street food in Latin America, and the competition was tough. But in the end, with 46.6% of the votes, the tlayuda, that giant tortilla served with a seat of beans, tasajo (beef jerky), chorizo, chapulines, and quesillo, won the Street Food Latin America championship.

The contest was part of a promotional campaign coinciding with the July 21 launch of the Netflix series Street Food: Latin America, which takes viewers on a gastronomical tour of six countries, exploring their cultures through traditional dishes.

The tlayuda went up against choripán (Buenos Aires, Argentina), acarajé (Salvador, Brazil), ajiaco (Bogotá, Colombia), ceviche (Lima, Peru), and rellenas de papa (La Paz, Bolivia). Conspicuously missing from the list were tacos, elote, quesadillas, plátanos fritos, pupusas, and so much more.

Several major figures joined in on the campaign to ensure Mexico’s win with the tlayuda.

The competition was heated and not one country was taking any chances. In fact, the Mexican government’s official Twitter weighed in on the contest, urging its citizens to vote in the poll. Also, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico took to Twitter urging his followers to vote for the tlayuda.

Mexico is known to celebrate big wins with big parties, and some nearly expected a crowd of revelers to form at Mexico City’s famed El Angel statue, where many big celebrations are held. Though thanks to social distancing, that didn’t happen this time.

Not everyone was happy with tlayuda taking the top spot – including some very angry Peruvians.

Mexico’s tlayuda beat Peru’s ceviche fair and square: with 46.6% of the vote vs. Peru’s 45.8%. It was a close race to be sure, but the tlayuda won. And it deserved it if you ask me. However, many took to social media to express their outrage at the results.

In fact, Peruvians helped get Amazon Prime to trend on Peruvian Twitter when they decried their followers to cancel their Netflix subscription and instead sign up for Amazon Prime, as a sort of revenge against the network.

For those of you not familiar, what exactly is a tlayuda?

Credit: thatgaygringo / Instagram

Mexico’s famed tlayuda is most popular in the state of Oaxaca, where it’s said to have originated. But you can find it on the streets in any major Mexican city (as well as cities in the U.S. with large Mexican communities) as well as in upscale restaurants giving the dish a twist.

But what makes the tlayuda so special? Chef and culinary historian Rodrigo Llanes told the newspaper El País that the tlayuda is a bridge between pre-Hispanic and European culture, calling it a “magical” culinary creation.

“I do not disqualify the other candidates, but I maintain my preference for the Oaxacan entry for its historical tradition that does justice to native peoples, for its flavor that is emblematic of mestizo cooking, and for its size, which makes it a dish to share,” he said.